It’s been Shelton High School football’s signature style for decades now — physical defense combined with a power running game.
And it’s hard to argue with the success it has generated. The 3A state football banners from 1975 and 1984 are proof of that.
This year, however, expect some changes to that way of doing things. Quarterback Tyler Giraldes and a talented group of receivers are hoping to add an aerial dimension to an offense that leans to the conservative side.
“We’re not going to go all out Air Raid,” said coach Matt Hinkle, who has no intentions of completely abandoning his traditional brand of smash-mouth football with something that resembles what Washington State would do. “It’s a good problem to have though. We plan on being very balanced offensively.”
It’s the nice way of saying the Highclimbers feel pretty good about their offense as they tackle the new South Sound Conference this season.
Giraldes, a senior who started on last year’s 6-4 team that narrowly missed out on the playoffs, will have plenty of options this season in playmaking receivers Skyler Ross (6-foot-3) and Kyle Kimball (6-2), and athletic Taylor Toney, who shifts from lineman to tight end.
“Everyone put in the work this summer,” said the 6-5 Giraldes. “Skyler and Kyle are our twin towers. They can both make big plays, and Taylor has soft hands and seems to catch everything. I have a ton of weapons this year.”
As a quarterback growing up in Shelton, Giraldes can remember watching the Highclimbers produce one quality running back after another. So much so, that he briefly questioned what his role would be in high school.
“You would go to games and watch (Shelton) run the ball with Ralph Kinne every play,” said Giraldes about Kinne, a current University of Washington running back who was the Highclimbers all-state workhorse in 2011, rushing for 2,389 yards and 29 touchdowns.
“And they had tons of success doing that. It is nice knowing this year the coaching staff has enough confidence in us that they are willing to open up the offense.”
After breaking his collarbone during his sophomore season, Giraldes was handed the keys to the offense last year. Hinkle said Giraldes has made grand strides since his junior campaign.
“I’ve been really impressed with Tyler and how much better he is this year from last,” said Hinkle, who is entering his 22nd season with the Highclimbers. “He just does everything you ask out of him. I think he’s going to have a great season for us.”
The goal is simple for Giraldes and his teammates — challenge for the league championship and advance to the state playoffs, the latter of which was well within Shelton’s reach last year before slipping away.
The Highclimbers controlled their own postseason fate in 2015, but stumbled in their last 3A Narrows League game against Capital. A victory would have secured the league’s second-place playoff slot. A loss, however, had them on the outside looking in once the second season rolled around.
“It motivates you,” Giraldes said about the playoff miss. “You just think what more can you do this offseason so that doesn’t occur again.”
If that answer is an upgraded passing game, then Giraldes and his teammates should be pleased .
SHELTON HIGHCLIMBERS FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
All games at 7 p.m., unless otherwise noted. Home games at Highclimber Stadium; road games at the campus of the opposing high school, unless otherwise noted.
Sept. 2: North Mason at Shelton
Sept. 9: Shelton at O’Dea, 7:30 p.m. at Seattle Memorial Stadium
Sept. 16: *Shelton at Yelm
Sept. 23: *Peninsula at Shelton
Sept. 30: *Timberline at Shelton
Oct. 7: *Shelton at Gig Harbor, at Roy Anderson Field in Purdy
Oct. 14: *North Thurston at Shelton
Oct. 21: *Shelton at Central Kitsap, 7:30 p.m. at Silverdale Stadium in Bremerton
Oct. 28: *Capital at Shelton
*3A South Sound Conference game